Mozambique: Crisis of trust in media

Mozambique is reeling from the effects of climate change, conflict and economic hardship. Media has an important role to play, but as a new assessment report from IMS shows, Mozambican media faces a crisis of its own.

More than 400 people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed after cyclone Freddy – one of the longest-lived storms ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, if not the whole world – made landfall not once but twice in February and March 2023.

Predications are that natural disasters will be the new normal for Mozambique, significantly altering how authorities plan and implement their developmental agenda. Mozambique society now faces a multiplicity of challenges from climate change to terrorism in Northern Mozambique to economic crisis.
Public interest media has an important role to play in times of crisis, from – as in a situation like the current one – informing of threats, providing guidance on where to seek shelter and support, by giving those directly affected an outlet to share their experiences and by facilitating debate about aid priorities.

According to a recent media assessment report by IMS, trust and cooperation between media and government in Mozambique has significantly declined in recent years with authorities overly sensitive to criticism and reporting they perceive as negative.

This lack of trust in media is fuelling an anti-media and anti-journalism sentiment that is reflected in new media policies that the government is considering, as well as attacks on media, including arrests and at least one case of abduction and forced disappearance.

“Mozambique will not emerge out of these challenges with a lapdog media, and there is a need to rebuild trust based on acceptance of the principles of media freedoms and information needs of the people of Mozambique,” the assessment found.

The assessment was conducted by IMS through interviews in October and November 2022 and updated in March 2023 and provides a set of recommendations that local, regional, and international actors could consider in cooperating with the media and authorities in Mozambique in building a strong, resilient, and independent media.